With the buzz and excitement of transfer deadline day now done and reality settling in, Jelavic appears to be the only new recruit that has some uncertainty surrounding him.
Slaven thinks he can still get the best out of his Croatian co-patriot and knows him from his time as the Croatian national coach. However, the fans aren’t as sure and looking at the past reactions of Hull City fans, that feeling of scepticism probably has some foundation to it.
In March this year, Jelavic had major knee surgery and was out for most of Hull’s dogfight against relegation, but prior to that the fans thought that he was just another journeyman footballer, not much use in front of goal, taking high wages. His time at Hull appears to have gone downhill once Hull sold Shane Long.
The two together seem to have worked well, but with Long’s replacements not fitting the bill, Jelavic just drifted in, but mostly out of games. According to Hull’s local papers, Jelavic’s body language in the summer was one of a man not wanting to be anywhere near Humberside.
Actually, there were other suitors before West Ham’s late approach and terms were agreed with the Turkish side Trabzonspor, but it amounted to nothing in the end. Norwich City were also interested after they failed to land Roma’s Destro, but again nothing became of initial enquiries.
So, what can we expect from the former Croatian international? Well, according to teammates, whilst finesse is not his strong point, his battering ram style of play is. He’s not the kind of player to make space for himself, turn and hit stunning strikes or score from long range, but he is a poacher and it’s believed amongst players that he could still do a job for The Hammers.
I’m sure he realises that at 30-years-old, he is coming into the squad to add depth and cover for when Carroll, Valencia and Zarate return to full fitness. He won’t be first choice, but apparently Jelavic is considering coming out of international retirement and sees West Ham as his chance to show what he can do. To most of us, it looks like a two year deal, with an option to extend, is the last chance saloon.
His total goals to appearances in his time with Hadjuk Split, Zulte Waregem, Rapid Wien, Rangers, Everton and Hull stands at 126 in 335 games and six goals in 36 games for Croatia. He’s a striker with experience, having played in European Championships and a World Cup, plus having played all over Europe and although he was no one’s choice for striker at Upton Park, he could yet prove the doubting public wrong. Or not.
It would be unfair to pre-judge him before he’s even kicked a ball in the claret and blue, but we’ve seen them come and go with fantastic pedigrees and golden promises of goal scoring heroics like they were Greek gods before and seen them disappear with a whimper.
I give you Zola’s purchase of Savio, as an example. Bonkers Boogers that Redknapp signed in the 90s along with Camara and many more that have waltzed in on a cloud and gone quietly, ignominiously with tails between their legs, never to be heard of again.
Jelavic has a lot to prove and probably as a squad player making cameo appearances, that might suit him. In the role as a super sub, maybe he will come on for twenty minutes and poach a goal, thus turning a possible defeat into a draw or even a win. Yes, I’m fantasising, but we need to get behind him and the judgement of Bilic.
And then who knows?